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No opposition at hearing on Bunker Road closure

May 25, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Fremont County commissioners on Tuesday heard unanimous support from the public attending a hearing concerning a proposed seasonal closure of Bunker Road in the long-debated access controversy.

The 10-minute hearing during the commission meeting attracted 11 people in the audience with the seven who gave spoken comment in favor of the proposed closure.

"It does not appear to be a single person not in favor of there being a seasonal closure," affected landowner Cornelius Britt told commissioners. "I would like the record to reflect that."

The proposed seasonal closure pertains to motorized vehicular traffic only, with other forms of travel allowed on the road.

It would extend through the winter months from Dec. 1 through June 1 with the commission reserving the right to close the route earlier and reopen it later depending on weather-related conditions.

The commission at the hearing's conclusion decided to close the comment period on the proposed seasonal closure at 5 p.m. on May 31.

Submit written comments by mailing them to County Commission Chambers, Fremont County Courthouse, 450 N. Second St., Room 205, Lander, WY 82520.

The commission is also accepting comments by e-mail at commissioners@fremontcountygovernment.org or by fax at 332-1132.

Discussions about the proposed seasonal closure is happening as the commission and affected landowners are developing an agreement concerning legal issues for the route off Baldwin Creek Road.

After years of litigation, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in November 2010 that Bunker Road is a legal public route that has never been vacated or abandoned by county government.

The parties agreed to pursue mediation in February and postpone a public hearing that had been scheduled for commissioners to ultimately decide whether to pursue the proposed road alteration and determine specific damages to award to landowners.

Appraisers hired by the commission considered landowners on the proposed alteration route that uses King Drive from its intersection with Baldwin Creek Road to the intersection with Bunker Road's right of way.

The three appraisers recommended no damage award for specific homeowners along the route.

Commissioners accepted the public comments on the seasonal closure to enter them in the record for their consideration.

Britt called the seasonal closure "imperative for the welfare of the county and the expenses of the county."

He noted there is "not much of a road out there" and maintaining it through the winter months would generate a "high expense to the county."

North Fork Land and Cattle's Jeff Hansen said the federal Bureau of Land Management parcel accessed by Bunker Road prohibits motorized vehicular traffic from Dec. 1 through June 15. He suggested matching the proposed closure with the BLM dates.

"I think it's inviting more controversy that doesn't need to happen," Hansen said about the two-week difference.

Area landowner Mike Bohlen identified concerns about damage that could result to the road during heavy use in winter months.

"There's going to be tracks and mud and people stuck and all sorts of unsavory situations out there," Bohlen said, also recommending the closure coinciding with the BLM dates.

Concerned landowners Pat McGavern and Deborah Britt also agreed with altering the dates to match the BLM seasonal closure.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson said at the meeting the board had received one written comment, which was in favor of the closure. None had been received in opposition.

Another concerned landowner, Sarah Krall, pointed out the lack of opponents at the meeting. "I think it's kind of obvious the public must not be here to speak to keep the road open," she said.

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